All year long the Blackhawks were able to rely on their depth. They had four lines and were able to roll them constantly. They were confident in their defense and more frequently than not, the duo of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya were able to take on the number one assignment.
Everyone knows about the Blackhawks stars. But where they excelled this season was that they were the deepest team in the league. They got contributions from everyone.
In the playoffs, they were able to show off that depth. They got contributions from everyone on defense but it was the third and fourth lines that contributed greatly.
Bryan Bickell had a playoff for the ages as he scored nine goals and eight assists to be second on the team in points and goals. Bickell was on the third line when the playoffs started and is now thought to have become an integral part of the core. He single handedly tried to defeat the Kings as he recorded three goals and four assists.
Meanwhile what about Michal Handzus who had to fill in as the second line center? He recorded 11 points and was bigger for the Blackhawks than anyone thought. Handzus was consistent and came up with big goals when it was needed for the Blackhawks.
Michael Frolik was big for the Blackhawks as well as he had two goals in the first round and then a key penalty shot goal in Game 6 of the series against the Detroit Red Wings to become the first player in NHL history to score two penalty shot goals in the playoffs.
Marcus Kruger was good and had his moments as well. He teamed up with Frolik on the penalty kill and made a beautiful goal in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Andrew Shaw was huge for the Blackhawks as he scored five goals in the playoffs and tipped in the game winner in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Finally there was Dave Bolland who scored the game winner to clinch the Cup. Bolland recorded five of his six points in the final. He scored all three goals in the final. Bolland scored an empty netter in Game 5 in addition to the goal heard around the world in Game 6.
Perhaps it was fitting who was on the ice for the Blackhawks when they scored their cup clinching goal. It was the fourth line who did the dirty work.
It was Kruger winning the faceoff and Frolik throwing a shot at the net. The puck worked its way back to the point and Oduya fired a shot from the point. Frolik redirected it past Rask as it hit the post. With the puck behind Rask, Bolland put the puck back in the net. It wasn’t the stars who were on the ice, they tied the game; but it was the role players who were on the ice to finish the job.
The Blackhawks had great depth like a lot of teams. But in the biggest moments, it was the role players who came up big. They were clutch and came through when it counted. When you win the Cup, you need not only your stars to show up but your role players to contribute as well and the Blackhawks had that this year.